80s, 90s, Blog, Food, It Came from Canada — June 17, 2017 1:06 pm

Clearly Canadian Returns!

Posted by

Clearly Canadian was a summertime staple for me. Between Wild Cherry Clearly Canadian, Cracked Magazine, and hanging out on Lake Erie, summers were pretty great in the 90s.

After my family’s regular vacations ceased, I never gave much thought to Clearly Canadian. I rarely bought it back home (although, I did purchase one and dub it my “germ bottle,” much to the disgust of my best friend Hoser, that I’d cough into and “release” when I wanted to be sick and stay home from school), it was more of a special occasion vacation beverage. And when you’re in a town of 200 with only one convenience store? Clearly Canadian is like fucking champagne.

Clearly Canadian introduced their first sparkling water in 1987 and were around 2009.

From Canada, to you, courtesy of 1993. And hey, looks pretty good for the computer animation of the early 90s!

If Clearly Canadian doesn’t sound familiar to you, then one of their other products definitely will: Orbitz. Oh yes, this sparkling water company from Canada was responsible for the floating balls abomination from the 90s. And while I may not have kept the germ bottle of Clearly Canadian, I sure as hell kept an empty bottle of Orbitz for god only knows why. If you’ve been reading this site regularly, or know me in real life, you know not to question these things about me.

With Clearly off the market for eight years, you’d think my ability to safely drink it again would be only slightly better than my chances of safely drinking Josta again. Well, don’t worry your pretty little face off about me.

In 2013, a fan-sourced-crowd-funded campaign to start producing Clearly Canadian again surfaced. They had the original recipes and even made glass bottles in the same complicated tear-drop shape.

It took a while for the campaign to reach the 25,000 case goal in order to go into production, but in 2015 they finally did it and produced four of the original flavors: Mountain Blackberry, Wild Cherry, Orchard Peach, and Country Raspberry. It took another two years, and me being highly irritated with Lee finding it in the U.S. at his local grocers a full five months before my cases were delivered, but they’re finally here.

And judging from what you know about me and my impulse control: I bought a case of each.

Also, judging from how much of an asshole I am: I had these four cases delivered to my parents’ house because they have an enclosed porch. Waking up to four cases of sparking water on their porch, understandably, confused my parents because, understandably, I did not give them a heads-up after losing all hope that these would ever ship to begin with.

Now that I have four cases of the stuff in my hands, you’re probably wondering: How does Clearly Canadian hold up? And how will you properly review something you haven’t tasted since 1996?

Well, I’ll tell you, dammit.

Mountain Blackberry:

Immediately the floral smell of what I assume blackberries smell like permeate the air. The initial taste isn’t overwhelming, it’s smooth and inoffensive. It’s the aftertaste that gets you, much stronger than the beverage itself. Overall, nothing too special. I most likely didn’t try Mountain Blackberry in the 90s, but it’s still pretty good.

Wild Cherry:

If you thought Mountain Blackberry had a strong scent, rest assured it’s nothing compared to Wild Cherry. The good news is that Wild Cherry Clearly Canadian is one I remember fondly. Just smelling it brought me back. The taste is tart and has a hint of a cherry medicinal property to it. It reminds me of Black Cherry Kool-Aid made with exactly the amount of sugar the packet directions call for– precisely how I remember it tasting. The more I drink this one, the better it tastes. Will drink again (11 bottles of it).

Orchard Peach:

When it comes to artificial fruit flavors, I usually stick to reds, so Orchard Peach was the Clearly Canadian I was most apprehensive about. That being said, like Mountain Blackberry, it’s also one I likely left behind on store shelves way back when. Orchard Peach pleasantly surprised me. Once you get past its strong scent, it presents a mild Fuzzy Peaches flavor. Actual peaches remind me of feet. I don’t know why. But this was good, more sweet than tart. And definitely more sweet than feet.

Country Raspberry:

Have you noticed a pattern with these mini reviews? Country Raspberry features a stronger small rather than a stronger taste. I’d say it’s the mildest of the bunch, but after you’ve sipped on it, the aftertaste builds into a stronger raspberry flavor. More tart than sweet, but not sour. Rest assured, this one is also accurate to the Clearly Canadian of my youth.

So what happened to Clearly Canadian’s spot on supermarket shelves in the first place?

The brand was very popular in the late 80s and early 90s until the sparkling flavored water market exploded with a ton of similar products.

In the Saturday, January 4, 1992 issue of The New York Times, Lawrence M. Fisher said that, “Some industry analysts say Clearly Canadian is the new leader of what they call the ‘new age’ category of light beverages like flavored seltzers and fruit juice-based soft drinks.” The beverage was flying off shelves, even beating Original New York Seltzer at the time.

In a 1993 taste test, consumers were able to identify the Pepsi flavor when asked to sample Crystal Pepsi, Fresca, Clearly Canadian Country Raspberry, and Ice Mountain Peach Flavor. Well no fucking shit.

This article from the Star Banner from Friday, October 24, 1997 identifies Clearly Canadian as a viable business even though it had taken a hit from so many similar products on the market. What was helping it? This new fangled Orbitz drink, “the first original idea in soft drinks in a long time, which features little, fruit-flavored balls that are suspended in a light beverage”. Ah, solid chunks. Refreshing.

2000-june-3-fizzy-blend-of-lemon-ginger

Clearly Canadian was back again in 2000 with Tre Limone to compete more aggressively in the fruit juice market before they fizzled out, much to the chagrin of sparkling water and germ bottle lovers everywhere.

While four of the original flavors of Clearly Canadian are back, this still leaves us all with one burning question: Where is Orbitz?!

The official Clearly Canadian FAQ answers that, sorta:

Will you bring back Orbitz?
Orbitz! Orbitz! Orbitz! We know there is a serious following seeking Orbitz. We are researching whether Orbitz can in fact be re-produced. It was a technologically advanced drink then and remains so. Have you seen a bottle from 1997? The balls are still floating! NO JOKE.

Fingers crossed that one day we’ll be able to chew that disgusting beverage once more.

And yes, I realize I’ve smack-talked Orbitz for this whole article but 1.) I still own an empty bottle from 1997, 2.) I also own a tear-pad promo page for a CD featuring Treble Charger, 3.) And also these Orbitz-Independence Day bottle neck promos because the 90s, and 4.) You damn well better believe I’d have four cases of Orbitz delivered to my parents’ house if the option were available.

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

— required *

— required *

Loading Facebook Comments ...